It was the fall of 1968, October. I was 12 years old at the time, one of the five Cass kids on our block.
My bicycle was stolen. It was an old beat-up hand-me-down, but it got me where I needed to go. I had to borrow an even older more beat-up one from one of the 10 Michalak kids two doors down so I could do my paper route.
On Christmas morning that year, I awoke early, probably 5 or 6 a.m. I woke my big brother Craig with, “Hey, Craig! Get up! Get up! It’s Christmas morning! Come on, come on!”
We ran out to our living room, and there was my bike in front of the tree.
That bike had been completely restored. It had been sanded and painted a beautiful deep blue with a silver metal flake banana seat and silver metal flake hand grips. It had new tires and rims, foot pedals and handlebars. It was spectacular.
Come to find out, my big brother Craig and Cathy Michalak (the one who loaned me the bike to do my paper route) had “stolen” my bike and hidden it in their garage. Craig and Cathy did all the restoration work to surprise me at Christmas.
It had to be the best Christmas present I ever got.
True meaning of Christmas
The following ballad I, Thane Cornell, heard at my annual Christmas Toastmaster’s meeting. It was performed by a fellow Toastmaster as her required dramatic reading project of more than 30 years ago in St. Petersburg, Fla.
My first hearing of this deeply and soulfully reflective Christmas memory drove me to obtain a copy, which I was so grateful to acquire to be able to include in all my own presentations that as a solo artist and presenter I have been privileged to give over the past 30 plus years. To add to the timeliness of this wonderful Christmas ballad, I will be presenting it at perhaps your own club or church event to the balance of the season, or sometime through the New Year!
“Jesus is truly the only reason for the season.” So have an enduring and happy one!
If Jesus Came to Your House
If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two —
If he came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do.
Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honored guest,
And all the food you’d serve to him would be the very best,
And you would keep assuring him you’re glad to have him there —
That serving him in your own home is joy beyond compare.
But — when you saw him coming, would you meet him at the door
With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let him in?
Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?
Would you turn of the TV and radio and hope he hadn’t heard?
And wish you hadn’t uttered that last loud, hasty word?
Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Would you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder — if the savior spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you always sing, and read the books you read,
And let him know the things on which your mind and soul feed?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you’d planned to go? Or would you, maybe, change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have him meet your very closest friends?
Or would you hope they’d stay away until his visit ends?
Would you be glad to have him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when he at last was gone? It might be interesting to know the things that you would do
If Jesus Christ in person came to spend some time with you.
The truth about Santa
The time was Christmas 1950. Donna was 4 and her older, wiser brother, Charles, was 9. Charles was willing to share his superior knowledge that there is no Santa. The Christmas tradition in their house was that Santa brought a decorated tree and all of the wrapped presents on the night of Christmas Eve. The family would wake up Christmas morning to a fantastic display that was not there the evening before.
This year they woke up and nothing had changed except the heartbroken children receiving no gifts with no tree. They rode to Christmas Mass quietly as Donna glared at Charles.
Uncle Robert, who lived nearby, ran over to the house and set up the tree and arranged the wrapped presents. When Donna and Charles returned home and found the magnificent display, the lesson was learned.
Charles, to this day, will forcefully declare that he believes in Santa.
Christmas This Year
Christmas this year will be special, I know,
With or without the presence of snow.
It’s a family tradition to have a live tree,
With decorations made by the children and me.
We’ll start with the lights, that is a must!
Then place the angel on top to watch over us.
Hours are spent stringing popcorn with care.
These are truly good times that we will all share.
Paper chains we will make with colors so bright,
They’ll rival the stars that shine in the night.
Candy canes hanging all over the tree,
Will be a pleasing sight for all to see.
Ornaments and icicles, they will come next,
Our Christmas tree will surely be blessed!
Baking cookies and cakes will be so much fun!
We’ll eat all the ones that get too well done!
The rest go to friends both far and near,
To let them all know they are special and dear.
Christmas Eve is our favorite time of all,
Singing songs ‘round the tree, we’ll all have a ball!
The fireplace will glow with embers of red,
We’ll all hang our stockings before going to bed.
But first we’ll leave cookies by the living room light.
(We can’t forget Santa, it wouldn’t be right!)
Children’s voices will awake us before the dawn.
(I’ll have to fix breakfast before the candy’s all gone!)
We’ll open our presents one by one.
We’ll all take turns until we are done.
We’ll read of the Christ child and of his birth.
We’ll talk of the good things he did while on earth.
As we partake of our dinner at the end of the day.
We’ll give thanks for our blessings
What more can I say?
Lonely and heartbroken this Christmas
This year’s Christmas of 2017 will be a very lonely one without any cats. I lost my last cat, Sam, who I had for 10 years. She got very sick and old. She died over Labor Day weekend.
Sam was my Maine coon cat. I think she was the hardest death I’ve ever been through. I’ve never been so hurt and brokenhearted ever.
The way she died hurts me most. She was so sick for a long time. When she didn’t eat, I didn’t either. It upset too much.
Now she is gone to Heaven and I am left here lonely, badly torn and brokenhearted.
Is it too soon to ask Santa for another fluffy, furry, long-haired kitten to love for free for Christmas? Sam was a very special cat. I loved her with all my heart. I miss her dearly.
Sam is my Christmas memory.
Deborah G. Lazenby
Finding the perfect tree
Over the hills and through the woods ... to Grandmother’s house we often would go with delight, but this Christmas memory is all about the search for that perfect Christmas tree years ago.
Growing up at the base of the majestic Sierra and owning property there did have its advantages. Each year, Dad would fire up the old orange Case tractor, attach the hay wagon to it, and off we’d go; my sister and I delighted to be riding in the back of the wagon, trudging up the hill. That was, until the road narrowed, became icy, and the wagon often took a sidestep or more off the steep hillside.
With a tight grip on the wagon walls, and a startled scared look on our faces, Dad would offer us his comforting words that we would be okay ... just hang tight! And of course, we believed him! He was always our hero!
Finally, after inching our way up the hill, we’d arrive to acres of gorgeous silvertip trees. They were everywhere, but we always managed to scout until we found the perfect tree.
With a twinkle in our eyes, we were always able to proudly tell all our friends about how we found the perfect tree.
Today, my sister and I are now grown adults, but those precious memories live on; maybe not so much the vision of the trees we’ve gathered over the years, but the “making of memories” my parents have created for us; patience, love, and things that just cannot be bought in a box store. How fortunate we are!
Now, my wish for you is that happy memories of love and kindness will fill your hearts as well during the holidays. Merry Christmas!
A Bit of Blarney
In every joke there’s an ounce of truth
In bits of blarney, too.
And in each praise you give someone
You praise the God. That’s true.
When you greet someone and say
“Isn’t this day just grand?”
You really say how marvelous
This working of God’s hand.
So don’t be afraid to speak a praise
To this you simply attest
That God, Who lives in each of us,
Is mirrored and each is blest!
It is not wrong to recognize
In all things great and small
That heart is lifted and there is joy
In all His creation. After all,
He is the Source of love and joy
And His command was now
We are expected to love one another
With simple joy is how.